Thorntons said like-for-like sales of its confectionery fell 7.4% over the Easter period - which accounts for 10% of annual sales - and would lead to flat pre-tax profit for its full year.

Thorntons blamed the “exceptionally hot weather” for the poor sales but added that it has since sold all its Easter egg stocks through its own shops at discounted prices.

Over the longer term, Thorntons is to pursue its policy of widening the availability of branded products alongside its retail offer to “reduce the seasonal and weather-sensitive nature of the current business”.

Listings for new branded products have been secured with Safeway and Morrisons, along with further business at Tesco, and other deals with other retailers were “pending”.

Like-for-like sales at Thorntons shops were up 3.6% prior to the last week to Easter.

Thorntons will give a further update on July 15 and announce full year results on September 9.